Just Bought My First Car (Yay!). Need a Dedicated Sat Nav - What Brands/Models Are Recommended?

As I'm on my green P's in VIC, I'm not allowed to use my phone for hands-free, so unfortunately I can't use Google Maps.

Reading a bunch of reviews for different brands (Garmin, Navman, etc) there seems to be many frustrated reviews complaining of poor navigation directions - sometimes dangerous ones.

Are there any suggestions as to a system that is updated often, has live traffic updates, and uses a good map system? My budget is about $200 but could stretch for the right model


  • question; can you use a tablet? a non cellular one of course.

  • +3

    Can you survive without nav for a couple of years? Just check the route on google maps before you leave and pull over if you get lost? Thats what I did and I survived fine on my P's.

    • +6

      I used a street directory or printed directions back in my days when I was on my Ps

      • +1

        It's unreasonable to expect Gen Z to revert back to paper maps when all they know is digital maps.

        • +2

          They'd have to learn how to use them if they go into remote areas where there's no internet connection

          • +1

            @kerfuffle: Google maps have the option to download offline maps. We load our mobile devices with the whole map of Sydney.

            • +9

              @whooah1979: I still think being able to read a non-digital map is a useful skill to have, especially if you run out of battery. It's sad when you see toddlers swipe on a book because they think it's a tablet …

              • +4

                @kerfuffle: Society isn't going back paper maps unless we have another World War.

      • +8

        Well back in my day we used stars to work out where we were going

    • +1

      The beauty of the Sat Nav is you, quickly, know when you have strayed from the path. yes you can survive without nav, but it does make it much easier - particularly if you aren't sure where you are going. BTW - We are more boomers/Gen Xers than Millenials, we just remember the times we got lost and the "discussions" about map reading between couples.

  • Does android auto and apple carplay prohibit too for Ps?

  • +1

    Would recommend Tomtom….using since 2 yrs….never got lost unless I took a wrong turn 😄

    • +11

      You were a smart toddler.

  • I would suggest a tom tom one which can connect to smartphone for Traffic updates on Bluetooth. e.g. Tom tom go 60
    You may find used ones cheaper @ gumtree / Facebook / ebay


  • +3

    Thanks for reminding me to get one, I just got a car and i'm on my greens as well in NSW.

    From past googling for my mother stay far away from Navman and keep to models still on the Tomtom and Garmin websites to ensure they are not old models.

    I went for Tomtom VIA 53 for my mother which has worked great for her. The only annoying thing is the voice activation is terrible and will turn on without you saying the activation word so i turned it off completely as it was never used anyway.

    I also connected it to her WiFi so when she pulls in the driveway it can check for updates automatically and will popup if they is one without it leaving her car as long as it's within WiFi range.
    $158 atm at Harvey Norman

    • thank you - I ended up getting this from Harvey Norman and it should arrive tomorrow. I think this is a great suggestion providing it does as it says on the box :)

      • Nice I also bought the Via 53 for myself the day I typed the comment.
        Working great for me tonight getting to my job (I'm a traffic controller so I'm all over Sydney)

  • -1

    Get a phone holder and install one of the free nav apps from google store.
    They work just like a dedicated GPS, voice guidance etc. NO internet connection required, just GPS enabled to use.
    Updates are often and "free" :-).
    An added benefit is that wherever you go you have a satnav in your pocket.
    Here We Go works great on our phones.. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.here.app.m...

    Safe travels.. :-)

    • +1

      They're on P plates; they can't use a mobile phone, even if for the sole purpose of navigation

      • +1

        Even if in a holder and untouched whilst driving? That is nuts. Yet they can fiddle with a gps?

        • Yep.

        • +2

          they don't want push notifications/messages suddenly pop up to distract your driving

          eg. ding-dong - "come over, my parents aren't home"

  • I've found that TomTom is the most user friendly.

    No matter which brand you choose, you should never blindly follow the directions. Common sense is obviously important. If you're sitting facing a river the device is telling you to drive straight, then obviously you don't follow those directions.

    The maps are not perfect and updates are contstantly being made.

  • Whilst I don't have a recommendation since I use Google Maps now on my Pixel I'd advise you to steer away from Garmin. I've had very poor experience and their customer service was less than impressive.

  • -2

    Do you need one at all? Most of my driving is to places I already know. I mostly use my built in satnav to double check my speed or to see how accurate my guessed ETA is compared to a computer.

  • All I was told from retailers stay away from navman that was years ago ended up with a tomtom which is OK Wego has better new estate street updates important if your associated with building new houses.

  • We have a 6" screen Tom Tom with the lifetime world maps and local traffic information. We've taken it overseas and it seems to work well. There are a couple of quibbles we have with how long it takes to recalculate routes and reliability to connect to local traffic information but, overall, we like it. We tried using an app with free maps overseas and it gave us ambiguous instructions, at times.

  • -2

    Phone + Phone mount + Google Maps

  • +1

    I have something like this and it is one of my best purchases hands down. Speed cameras, actual speed of your car, maps, etc. It's great and cheap. Also has traffic ifbyou hotspot it via bt.

    Edit: I'm sure you can find it for cheaper somewhere though

  • Tablet with waze, tethered to your phone

  • I have been using a garmin for almost an year now.. havent had an issue at all. The only place I had issue with maps notupdated was in Tassie near Launceston airport. Coming to customer service I had issues with the device not taking power and garmin support replaced it immediately no questions. So I am happy on that end too.

    This is the model I have


  • +1

    I prefer Garmin, but lots of people like Tom Tom. You won't have any problem staying within your budget unless you want a huge screen.

    Just make absolutely certain that the unit you buy has free lifetime map upgrades.

  • Just download free HERE WeGo navigation software for Android or ios then download maps onto device so you dont need a data connection.

    This software works well, is free and works on your phone. I have been using it for years in Australia and when we went to NZ and Bali.

  • +1

    Wow I didn't realise that P platers can't use their phone for directions. Maybe wait to you are on full license and in the meantime learn the roads the old fashioned way by studying maps - guarantee it will make you a better driver! Then once you are off your P's use google maps on your phone, just make sure the phone is in a dedicated phone holder though (mine's clipped w a magnet to my air con vents) plus you are not allowed to touch it at all whilst keys are in the ignition and car is on so just set the phone up w your destination and start it before you turn the car on…. easy peasy!

  • I'd repurpose an old phone into a dedicated GPS decice. Also, I'd take the SIM card out so it's a device, not a phone.

    This is a decent explanation of how to do it - though I'd use Here We Go as my app and I'd replace the device's boot animations with a graphic that says something like "(car brand logo) Dedicated GPS System".

    Turn off all notifications too; then it can't be argued that the device is distracting you.


  • I'm one of those people that had a terrible experience with Navman, but since then a great experience. My model totally killed itself after a map upgrade once it was out of warranty, to fix it was going to get close to the original price, I bought another same model second hand for about 1/4 in the hope that I could transfer my lifetime maps, and that machine has been running great ever since 2+ years. I update the maps often (had to buy new key), I have 2 mounts, chargers etc, and it hooks up to a PC easily. I think the secret is to only use the short USB cord they supply. This thing stays in the sun all the time and works effortlessly, and has never told me to drive into a river…

  • Google Maps

  • +1

    Wow, so many who can't read/comprehend the problem. Amazing.
    My experience including personal ownerships and friends/family, is, any major satnav brand will satisfy you.

    Screen size, lifetime maps/updates and warranty should be your major concerns. Ease of use being very subjective, it's difficult to follow recommendations on that. Go and play with them.

    • +1

      yes, I was surprised so many replies were either telling me that I don't need one, or to use a phone. I ended up getting a Tomtom Via 53 as per the suggestion from Axelstrife.

      • Will be interested to get your impressions when you’ve used it.

  • Garmin or nothing!

  • +1

    Are you allowed to set your destination on your mobile GPS App before you start driving, then put your phone in the Glove Box, or boot, connect your mobile to your car Stereo, and listen to voice directions through the car speakers?

  • Why don't you just use google maps on your spare phone or a cheap android if you don't have a spare. You can connect it to your main phone through wifi hotspot.

    • Did you read the first sentence of the OP?

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